Submitted Date 07/17/2019

Many people, both young and old, battle with chronic back pain on a daily basis. For many, that pain is controlled by taking either over the counter or prescribed pain medications. However, for others, either the pain medications do not work or they are unable to take them due to an allergy or the need to still function without the side effects. These patients must look for an alternative form of pain management. The most common forms of pain management not involving medication are Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET) or Intradiscal Electrothermal Annuloplasty (IDEA), and Radiofrequency Discal Nucleoplasty or Coblation Nucleoplasty.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

The most common treatment for pain management is TENS therapy. With TENS therapy, small electrodes are placed on the skin near the source of pain. These electrodes are connected to a small battery-operated device which sends low-voltage electrical currents to the source of the pain. This electricity stimulates the nerves in the affected area. This stimulation then sends a message to the brain and effectively scrambles the pain receptors. The electrical current is not painful and this option works to provide short-term pain relief.

Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET) or Intradiscal Electrothermal Annuloplasty (IDEA)

Another treatment used to minimize back pain is called Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET) or Intradiscal Electrothermal Annuloplasty (IDEA). IDET is designed to be a pain management procedure for those suffering from disc issues in the back. A small electrothermal catheter is placed into the disk through a small incision in the back and the disc itself. This catheter then delivers a small electrical current which heats up an outer portion of the disc. This heating is designed to change the nerve fibers and destroy the pain receptors in the specific area. While the time frame for pain control varies from patient to patient, some will see pain relief for as long as six months.

Radiofrequency Discal Necleoplasty or Coblation Nucleoplasty

Radiofrequency Discal Necleoplasty or Coblation Nucleoplasty is one of the newest treatments for chronic back pain. Similar to the IDET procedure, a needle is inserted into the bulging disc causing the pain. Where IDET uses heat, Radiofrequency Discal Necleoplasty utilizes radio waves. These waves create a focused plasma field which breaks up the molecular bonds of the nucleus. This results in a shrinking of the disc itself and reduces the pressure created by the disc on the nerve roots.

While these tools and procedures are showing successful treatment for back pain, not all of them will work for everyone, as each patient is different. Many of the effects seen with these new treatments could only previously be achieved by major back surgery, so the use of these treatments is promising. With back pain affecting 65 – 85% of the United States population, these less evasive treatment options provide relief for some without the long term recovery of major back surgery.

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